MALAWI – Malawian health authorities have put in place preventive measures to control the further spread of water-borne disease Cholera amid outbreak in the southern Malawi region such as surveillance and contact tracing.

Cholera is an acute diarrheal infection caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with bacteria that affects both children and adults and if left untreated and it can kill within hours.

The disease can be prevented if community health structures are financially empowered to effectively perform their task of educating communities on matters of hygiene and sanitation particularly in flood-prone areas.

Southern Malawi has reported an increase in cholera cases which health authorities blame on flooding from a recent tropical storm and cyclone where more than 30 people have been infected with two fatalities.

Out of 33 cases, eight people are still receiving treatment at the cholera treatment center, Ndamera treatment center specifically, two people have died while the rest have been discharged,” revealed George Mbotwa, the spokesperson for the Nsanje District Health Office.

George Mbotwa said that the health officers are conducting public health education to raise awareness about the current Cholera outbreak in Malawi and to improve individuals’ and community health.

The health officials are also carrying out important health talks in evacuation camps where there are a lot of people and discussions with surrounding communities intended to develop positive attitudes towards health issues.

We have introduced health workers including Health Surveillance Assistants in all undocumented entry points where they are conducting health promotion in water treatment efforts, health talks and other related health topics,” added George Mbotwa.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is also working together with Malawian health authorities to organize public health interventions aimed at reducing the spread of the disease.

An emergency specialist for UNICEF Estere Tsoka disclosed that the UN Agency is supporting the disinfection of household water sources and also chlorination of water sources at community level that got affected by the floods.

In addition, UNICEF is supporting sanitation of the cholera treatment centers that have been established to prevent them from becoming a source of infection.

Tsoka also confirmed that the Agency had ongoing plans to procure a cholera vaccine in an effort to contain the spread of the water-borne disease.

There are plans to administer oral cholera vaccine in eight districts of the country and UNICEF will provide support to bring in the vaccines in the country while also supporting planning processes for the vaccine’s national campaign,” stressed Tsoka.

The Ministry of Health is also currently distributing chlorine to communities in affected areas for water treatment as well as sending cholera control information to all the people through various channels of communication.

Cameroon activates management system against Cholera outbreak

Meanwhile, Cameroon’s Ministry of Health has activated the incident management system against Cholera to ensure coordination of measures taken and reactive vaccination amid the Cholera outbreak.

The health ministry plans to administer safe oral cholera vaccines while enhancing improved water supply and sanitation to limit cholera outbreaks as well as promote prevention in known high-risk areas.

The ministry confirmed that there was an outbreak of cholera in the South West between 16th and 22nd March 2022 with over 300 cases reported.

The outbreak started last October in the Southwest and Centre regions before expanding to other regions with 1,100 confirmed cases and 32 deaths as of 1st January 2022.

In early 2021, the World Health Organization estimated that there were 1.3 million to 4 million cases of cholera and 21,000 to 143,000 deaths from the disease worldwide each year.

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